Sermon Dec 24 St Chad’s
Something incredible happened, about 2024 years ago. A baby was born. Whenever a new baby arrives something incredible happens.
But this was God, you know, God who made the heavens and the earth, who called light into being, whose hands hold the universe!
We have been looking at the stars recently to see two great planets come near to each other, and this is only a tiny part of what God created, and is still creating.
But a tiny, helpless baby is born. God was here on the earth, on a little blue and green marble in the vast galaxies of God’s own creation. Not only was God here, but in a dusty, forlorn country, forced to do the will of a mighty power. And not only in lowly Bethlehem, but God was not in a palace, or in a castle. God didn’t even have a house to be born in.
There was no room for God in the way of the powerful.
But God always makes a way, and God came to earth from a woman’s body, and she made a place for him to sleep.
There is always a way with God. Even where we might not think there is anywhere, God isn’t fussy, and will come to us wherever we will make room for God.
The innkeeper who had no rooms left could have turned Mary and Joseph away, and let them fend for themselves, but there was a place for them, if they were prepared to put aside all thoughts of comfort, or dignity, and make do.
In the same way God will come to you, if you make even the smallest chink of space.
The readings we have had leading up to Christmas have talked about the house of David, whether that be a house built of cedar wood to hold the ark of the covenant, or the house as in a family line.
Jesus was born in the family, the house of David. The physical house wasn’t important, it was the people he was born to who were the fulfilment of the prophecy about his birth.
We hear the story of the nativity, we sing the carols, we celebrate Jesus’ birth. We know what happened. But let’s look into our readings for why it happened.
‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.’
Do you have times of walking in darkness? I know I do. The darkness of the sin in the world, of loneliness, of loss, of lack can make this festive season particularly hard for some. But the real meaning of Christmas is not to point out the darkness and the exclusion from celebrating that many suffer, but to show the great light, come into the world. Why did God come into the world?
Let’s look into Isaiah’s prophecy again.
‘For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken.’
Is the yoke of your burden broken by the freedom of Christ? This is the real reason of Christmas, not to eat too many Roses chocolates while complaining about how the old ones were better.
‘For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace.’
Prince of peace, endless peace. That would be good wouldn’t it? This is why Jesus came to us, to bring justice, righteousness, and peace. Humans are expert at disturbing peace, at treating others as if they don’t matter, but Jesus brings peace. We look at the world though and ask, well, where is this peace?
We have a responsibility. Let’s see what Titus tells us:
‘It is Jesus who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.’
You might think, what can I do? I am just one person, with no influence in the world. When Jesus came to bring peace, he needed somewhere to be born. There was a wee space made for him, squeezed into an inn overflowing with people already. His parents were allowed to tuck down with the animals, and instead of a cot or a basket for the new baby, they had to put him down in the only place where we would be safe from getting stepped on, in the animals’ feeding trough.
Do you have a wee space in you heart for Jesus?
There is an old hymn written a hundred and fifty years ago:
Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown,
When Thou camest to earth for me;
But in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room
For Thy holy nativity.
- Refrain 1-4:
O come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
There is room in my heart for Thee.
As we celebrate the birth of your Lord, so long ago, let’s remember why Jesus came to the world. Not to give us a touching story, though it’s wonderful. Not to inspire a mad shopping and cooking frenzy. Not to get everyone stressed about spending time with relatives, and having your house tidy enough. Jesus came to save all of us from the sin of the human condition, and to bring peace.
Tomorrow, the next day, and so on, I urge you to keep pondering on these things in your heart, that heart that has Jesus in it. May you come to God in prayer and strive to do your own part for bringing peace to the world.
And then we will see the prophecy fulfilled:
‘His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.’